We all (even amid good intentions) have tendency to act hypocritical in life. Maybe on occasion flash our own Pharisee card from time to time. In my life, I have done that more times than I would like to admit.
And honestly who wants to be compared to those guys Jesus so often had to forcefully address throughout his ministry? But deep down, each of us is more like those guys than we'd care to admit.
The Pharisees are mentioned in sermons and classrooms, and even are a source of jokes. The truth of the matter though is that Pharisees still exist today.
The following things are ways I have personally struggled with legalism and being a Pharisee in my own life. While I am less blind and more aware now, I still have a long way to go in the grace and mercy department.
1. Believing showing up for worship every Sunday makes you right with God.
I used to think just "showing up" on Sunday morning meant that I was better holier than other people, especially people like rapists or murderers. Just because I slid my butt in the pew and showed up, I somehow thought the bar for sanctification was less for me. I tried to measure my holiness. Funny thing though all that measuring I was doing, didn't have me in many ways transforming into the image of God.
I was probably as judgmental, selfish, and unloving as the person who wasn't just "showing up" on Sunday.
Just showing up on Sunday is not what makes us right with God.
2. Making every issue black and white.
There are many things the Bible is very clear on, but the Bible is grey on many issues too. I don't think modern-day Pharisees are even remotely comfortable in the world of grey (because I used to be like that). Everything must be black and white. In or out. Yes or no. Sinner or Saved. Up or down.
This is the one I most aligned myself with. I made people and situations black or white. The thing though behind every hot-button religious or cultural issue are people. People whose situations define and shape them in ways only God alone knows. There is really a lot more grey than we think.
I can relate to this concept a lot know because I can humbly admit I used to make the issue of divorce very black and white: "Well, good and righteous Christians don't get divorced. And those that do are creating a grave sin against God." It is really, really humbling (not to mention eye opening) when the tables turn and you find yourself in a situation you previously deemed so awful.
It is dangerous to become the morality police. I know in my own life those are the area's God has humbled me most. When I am willing to stop making assumptions before I listen and allow myself the possibility maybe I don't have it all right.
3. An unrepentant heart...you don't have any "serious" sin to repent of.
I used to think I was a pretty good person because I never had "serious sin" to repent of. Sure I wasn't a rapist, murderer, never had an abortion, or stole millions of dollars. But what about the way I gossiped or judged others? What about lying and selfishness? Or how about self-righteousness?
Modern-day Pharisees think they don't have any sin to repent of. Repentance involves vulnerability and weakness. Repentance is for people who sin "really" bad. Not for them.
See when you start to think as long as there is no "serious sin" in your life, you are just fooling yourself. Because Jesus didn't come to earth and categorize sin. He hated all sin, all things that led us away from Him. So He hates all sin. We all have serious sin that needs to be dealt with. The fact we are all sinners reveals our need for God.
Have you ever found yourself to struggle with any of these in your own life?